English Heritage cancels Summer Solstice celebrations at Stonehenge
Following the Government announcement that lockdown restrictions are to be extended, English Heritage has cancelled the planned celebrations for 2021.
English Heritage had been working closely with the police and Wiltshire Council to allow for access to Stonehenge on the night of the solstice, in accordance with government guidelines, but this all changed after the Prime Minister said the easing of lockdown restrictions would be further delayed for another four weeks.
One look at the weather and it may not seem believable that the Summer Solstice takes place tonight, Sunday, June 20, into the morning of June 21, with sunset taking place at 9.26pm and sunrise occurring at 4.52am, but the event will be live-streamed.
A statement on the English Heritage website says: "With this week’s news that the Government is delaying the lifting of the remaining Covid-19 restrictions on 21 June and following discussions with Wiltshire Council’s Public Health team and Wiltshire Police, English Heritage has taken the extremely difficult decision to cancel the planned Summer Solstice celebrations at Stonehenge this year."
However, English Heritage will live-stream sunset and sunrise for free on its social media channels. The event will include exclusive interviews and music. English Heritage is also allowing small, pre-booked groups from the pagan and druid community to gather on the days around the Summer Solstice to mark this important moment in their calendar.
The statement goes on: "English Heritage had to cancel both last year’s Summer and Winter Solstice celebrations due to the pandemic but prior to Monday’s Government announcement, the charity was preparing with our partners to welcome people to the prehistoric monument for this year’s Summer Solstice. In previous years numbers attending the Summer Solstice at Stonehenge have swelled through the night to anything from 7,000 to 30,000 plus people, far in excess of the 4,000 currently permitted at outdoor gatherings during the now continuing Step 3 of the roadmap."
At Avebury, there will be no extended or overnight opening of facilities provided by National Trust over the Summer Solstice weekend. There will be no camping facilities in the village and there will be a height barrier on the car park of 2.1m. The visitor car park, toilets, and catering outlets will only open for their standard daytime opening hours.
Wiltshire Police have put out a plea for people not to travel to the areas, posting: "Don't forget, if you want to celebrate Summer Solstice this year you will need to do it at home, due to the Government's ongoing Covid restrictions."
You can watch the live stream of the Summer Solstice on the English Heritage Facebook page.